Bill's Transcripts

Press Conference: Melbourne - Tony Abbott’s GP Tax; Tony Abbott’s broken promise.






SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s GP Tax; Tony Abbott’s broken promise.


BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good afternoon everyone. I am here with my Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King to respond to the announcement in the last hour or so by the Government on their GP Tax. Labor is of the view that there is still a tax on going to the doctor, that there is still a broken promise and that Tony Abbott will still try again, when he believes he has the numbers, to indeed increase the taxes going to the doctor. Everyone knows that when taxes are started, they never finish where they start and will go up. Labor like all Australians do not believe that if you need to go to a doctor, you should pay a tax to go to the doctor. Tony Abbott today has tried to pretend that his GP Tax is dead but sadly for Australians, his GP Tax is still very much alive.


He may have changed his talking points, but he hasn’t changed what he really wants to do to Medicare in this country – which is wreck it. The Abbott Government are still doing exactly what they did with the Petrol Tax – they are sneaking around and bypassing the Parliament, just like they did with the Petrol Tax to put a tax on going to the doctor. This is not a back down by the Abbott Government, this is a GP Tax that Tony Abbott can’t bring through your front door so he is going to bring it through your back door. Tony Abbott’s GP Tax is the thin edge of the wedge and he intends to, when he can, increase this tax. Labor has always had a principled position about opposing this tax; it is a broken promise and it is bad for the universal protection of Medicare.


Sick people shouldn’t be discouraged from going to the doctor when they need to. All that does is mean that when they are sicker, they will have a more expensive remedy when they do go to the doctor eventually because they have to. Labor will not allow Tony Abbott to wreck Medicare and that is what he still intends to do. What we also understand here very clearly is that Tony Abbott is under pressure and it’s showing. Tony Abbott isn’t interested in protecting the sick or the vulnerable, or indeed the low income earners, the kids, the old people, people who need to go to a doctor – Tony Abbott is only interested in protecting himself. That is what has motivated today, nothing more, nothing less. It’s still a GP Tax, it’s still a broken promise and we all know that when Tony Abbott gets the chance, he will increase it more.


I’d now like to ask my Shadow Minister, Catherine King to talk about the more specific propositions in today’s announcement.


CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH: Thanks very much Bill and thanks for coming out this afternoon all the media.


This back-down from the Abbott Government is the back-down by stealth. The GP Tax is still alive and well under the Abbott Government. Make no doubt this is a fundamental attack on our universal health insurance scheme that is Medicare that has served this country well and has made sure we have some of the best health outcomes in the developed world.  The GP Tax by stealth, not even announced while Parliament was still sitting last week. Announced at the last minute after Parliament has risen because the Abbott Government knows that this is still a GP Tax; a GP Tax by the back door.


We welcome the concessions that the Government has been forced to make after 12 months of uncertainty in the health care sector and for patients. The concessions they have made on vulnerable patients. But this still is a fundamental attack on Medicare, it is a fundamental attack on the healthcare system that has served this country well for over 30 years and Labor will not support and cannot support the GP Tax by stealth that this Government intends to introduce.


SHORTEN: Thanks, happy to take questions.


JOURNALIST: Does this effectively make doctors have to come up with, have to choose and become the tax man for the Government?


SHORTEN: Tony Abbott still wants to have a GP Tax. It’s still a broken promise, it is still pressure on the cost of living and Tony Abbott wants to turn the Australian GP doctor into a Tony Abbott tax collector.


JOURNALIST: Would you support the plan if the money went to paying off the debt rather than the new fund, the new medical fund?


SHORTEN: Your question is right on the mark. The Government says there is a Budget crisis. So, how do they say they will deal with a Budget crisis? Breaking a promise, putting on new taxes on families, taxes to go to the doctor and then the money they raise isn’t going to deal with the Medicare crisis which they allege exist. This is ill-conceived policy. Everyone knows that Tony Abbott isn’t protecting Medicare – Tony Abbott is trying to protect himself.


We’ve seen he has had a massive drop in support. We’ve seen massive disarray in this Government. They rushed the idea of the GP Tax to begin with because they believe in wrecking Medicare. So what they are trying to do is still put a tax on Australians going to the doctor. It is still a broken promise and it still means the cost-of-living pressure for Australians and Australian families is going up under Tony Abbott.


JOURNALIST: Is it more of an effort to appease his backbench do you think than rather than trying to get the policy right?


SHORTEN: Without a doubt Tony Abbott is just trying appease his backbench. This is about Tony Abbott protecting himself and the Government. It isn’t about protecting Medicare and it’s not about protecting ordinary Australians who need to go to a doctor. It’s still a tax, it is still a broken promise and Tony Abbott will still increase it. It is just the thin edge of the wedge.


Thanks everyone.